The Oysterponds School District is proposing a 1.584 percent increase in its 2018-19 budget for a total of $5.8 million.
The new budget, which complies with the 2 percent tax increase cap, includes an addition to the music department and the introduction of foreign language. The administration is looking to hire a part-time teacher in each discipline, Superintendent Richard Malone said.
“We’re expanding the strings program,” Mr. Malone said. “A number of our students now started going over to Greenport. We’ve been sending our strings program there to keep them interested in violin.”
He said that the Oysterponds strings teacher currently spends a portion of her day at Greenport educating the district’s secondary students there in violin. The addition of a part-time teacher would make it possible to have someone at Oysterponds for the majority of the day as well as at Greenport.
Additionally, the district is adding a foreign language program. Mr. Malone said. The language to be taught has not yet been chosen, but that the immersive program will involve kindergartners and first-graders next year.
The new part-time teacher will assist a regular teacher for one subject, for example, social studies, and co-teach the lesson in the chosen language.
“The instruction will be both in English and whatever language we decide,” Mr. Malone said, adding that the program will follow the students as they move through the school, so that in 2019-20 students in kindergarten, first and second grades will participate, and so on.
“That’s the way you really get it done,” he said of an immersive program. “If you start in fifth and sixth grade just a few days a week, the kids are not really getting anything out of it.”
The district, which currently has 91 students enrolled in pre-K through sixth grade, is also getting a new online model for its curriculum, known as Understanding by Design.
Other expected changes include a 25 percent hike in a special education, an increase in non-resident tuition paid to Greenport, an increase in the teacher’s retirement system contribution rate, more employees enrolling in the school insurance plan and additions for transportation, among others.
Oysterponds is also looking to continue renovation work at the school building by conducting an HVAC and boiler study during the next school year, with an eye toward ultimately replacing the system, Mr. Malone said.
“We budgeted to do studies on that and work with an architecture firm and put plans together to update the heating system,” he said.
In addition, according to the proposed budget, bathrooms are to be refurbished, more pre-K playground equipment will be installed and 20 iPads will be purchased.
“We’re doing it without a major increase in the budget,” Mr. Malone said. “We’re moving money around to the right places and getting the job done.”
The Board of Education has scheduled a budget hearing for Tuesday, May 1, at 7 p.m. The annual budget and Board of Election vote is Tuesday, May 15, from 2 to 8 p.m.